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Comment Creeping obscenity (Score 1) 449

Part of this is the creeping coarsening of our idioms. In an attempt to sound honest and unaffected, many common expressions over time have become "de-euphemized". For instance, what is the real ending of the expression "happy as a pig in...."? Most people nowadays will answer some word meaning "dung". The reasoning goes that pigs are dirty, and like to wallow in mud, which they are content, being lazy, to soil with their own excrement. Actually, the original version is "clover", which is one of the traditional hog feeds, along with acorns and wild spinach, something that a good segment of the population would have known up to fifty years ago. However, somewhere in the Seventies, the farmer's urbanized grandkids decided that what old Pops was saying was probably some kind of old-fangled euphemism, like the way he kept on saying "Dang!" and "Goodness gracious!" Since euphemisms were Out and obscenity was In, the current form became popular as a way to sound down-to-earth and mildly shocking.

Another example: "A cock and bull story" used to mean "lies" or at least "inflated nonsense", a usage dating back to the early 18th century, at least. From this we get "bull session", an expression meaning a sharing of such stories, something like "shooting the breeze", whose etymology meaning "talking together for the sheer fun of it" is pretty obvious, along with it's connotations of ease, leisure, and the like. "Bullshit" for the prior expression dates only from about the 1950's and "shooting the shit" (which makes me think of using a small pile for target practice), slightly later.

Don't get me started on donkeys, but this seems to be an unsettling trend....


Today's Children Are Officially Potty Mouths 449

tetrahedrassface writes "When the Sociolinguistics Symposium met earlier this month swearing scholar Timothy Jay revealed that an increase in child swearing is directly related to an increase in adult swearing. It seems that vulgarity is increasing as pop culture continues to popularize vulgarities. The blame lies with media, public figures, politicians, but mostly ourselves. From the article: 'Children as young as two are now dropping f-bombs, with researchers reporting that more kids are using profanity — and at earlier ages — than has been recorded in at least three decades.'"

Comment L-dopa /Schizophrenia/smoking (Score 2, Interesting) 297

What I'd heard (some years ago) was that cigarettes helped to soften the blow of phenothiazine-based drugs (Thorazine, Stelazine, etc.) that are commonly given to schizophrenics. These drugs work by removing L-dopa from the brain, and depressing the forebrain, thus making the subject more tractable and easy to deal with in institutional situations (the so-called chemical straitjacket, lobotomy in a pill, etc.) Marketed to doctors as "insulin for schizophrenics", they, indeed seem to work for a while: the subject becomes peaceful, and nearly unemotional, easily suggestible, and with few thoughts of their own. Higher cognition becomes more difficult: it's not unusual for someone on these drugs to go from, say, playing classical piano to watching, with interest, "Dancing with the Stars".

However, a few months later, side effects usually begin to occur: tics and twitches, a ravenous appetite, which coupled with the disinclination to move, quickly produces extreme obesity (and ironically Type 2 diabetes), and a pernicious apathy that slowly extends itself to jobs, appearance, other people and life itself. Worse, trying to get off these drugs means that psychotic symptoms reoccur, even worse than before, as the body's L-dopa production often has increased to unnatural levels. While it's true that some patients can function, and sometimes quite well, under these circumstances, the truth is that most of them do not, and the simple equation Psychotic - (L-dopa) = Normal simply does not hold up.

What nicotine, and to some extent, alcohol does is to increase L-dopa to a slight degree, but not as much as simply going without the drugs, and it does so fairly quickly. Part of the problem with the neuroleptics is that brain hormone production and consumption varies from moment to moment -- what would be "too much", say, waiting for a bus, would be "not enough" dancing at a lively party, brainstorming a new product, or trying to organize housework.

Without getting all Tom Cruise on you, I don't think that they're using the right angle.

Comment Jake and Dinos Chapman... (Score 0, Flamebait) 398

...have already weighed in on this subject. Stephan Hawking is a man who is not the world's greatest physicist, nor is he doing any work now that is in any way in the forefront. Mostly what he is is a motor neuron disease survivor. If he were to die tomorrow, it would be a tragedy, but not in the way that he had great work in the future. He would have had significant work towards unifying quantum mechanics and relativity theory, at least thirty years ago, a beautiful family, and a wonderful face on what is often a very hard disease. I long to kiss that cheek. But I don't deny that flesh has had its day in about it's fortieth year. Let the world's embraces be felt. But he is not a Homo Novis.

Comment Re:wow (Score 1) 844

Actually, both Protestants and Catholics were pretty good at burning, hanging, and otherwise spoiling each others' day during the Reformation (which is when most witch hunts occurred), since the greatest number of hunts were in Continental Europe, along fault lines that reached through France and Germany. Modern-day Wiccans are not a good historical source, since, like Fundamentalist Christians, they're notorious for rewriting history to suit their own witch-fulfilling fantasies....

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